Thursday, 9 December 2010


Earlier this week, I finished classes for the semester and I handed in my last paper. Although I still have to study for finals that are after the holiday break, I'm free for the moment! :) I've been enjoying the christmas lights, wandering around the shops and even dog sitting for a friend! It's been nice to relax these past few days! I'm heading to London, Prague and then France before heading home for Christmas. I'll have plenty to report during my travels! For now, here are some recent pictures:

Market St after many days of snow

A few gems from the peace and conflict studies xmas dinner

Paula, the dog I got to play with today!

Enjoy the holidays and all that they bring!

Saturday, 4 December 2010

back to reality

They say that it's nice to get away because it refreshes your head and gives you a new perspective. I wholeheartedly agree with that. However, traveling for 40 hours to and from Asia while only having been there for 85 hours will take a toll on you. Just ask my friends. When I came home, I was literally a lump on the couch, and I'm fairly positive I wasn't speaking English or forming words at all. I was more or less dead to the world. Useless. I eventually slept off the dysfunctional behavior and the life was back to normal. Despite the issues my body seemed to have with switching timezones so frequently, I did have a great time. Here's a picture from my trip:

As nice as my trip was, there's nothing more shocking than coming home from 80 degree weather to find that the weather in Scotland has drastically changed since you've been gone...

Yesterday was the first day it didn't snow/hail/sleet/rain for most of the day. The airports have been shut down and this is apparently the worst storm they've had in years. Trust me, those of you from New England would scoff at this kind of weather. This is like a sunny day in the middle of winter to all of you. However, a few inches of snow turns their world upside down. They don't even know how to plow the streets or shovel the sidewalks. There's perpetually a few inches of nastiness caked on the roads and sidewalks. I've gotten used to slipping and sliding everywhere. If this is any sign of what is to come this winter...we're in trouble.

I was lucky enough to come home to have a day of rest and then a Thanksgiving celebration with my friends! My friend Simon cooked the turkey, who was nicknamed Marvin, and my friends Matthew, Jackie and I took care of the rest. It was a lot of I can understand how difficult it is to put on Thanksgiving and Christmas for big crowds every year! Despite all the work, it was completely worth it :)

all of the food!


Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Greetings from Kathmandu!

Namaste! Being in Kathmandu for 4 days now, I've learned that this term is much more than just what we say at the end of my yoga workouts. "Namaste" is the way the Nepalese people greet people and it reinforces the philosophy of oneness. I was told by a shopkeeper today that using this term to greet someone is like saying "I recognize the God in you". If you think about it, it really is a beautiful thing. the Nepalese people are deeply spiritual and they are some of the most positive people I've ever met. I've learned that Nepal was the world's only Hindu state, but in order to negotiate with Maoist rebels they had to drop this status. Despite this historical problem, every person you meet will tell you that Nepal is still the world's only Hindu state. That is a face that they are proud of. They are equally as proud of the fact that they are the only state in South Asia that hasn't been invaded or ruled by the British. They couldn't be happier about this and they make it known.

After traveling for nearly 20 hours via Dubai, where I wanted to empty my bank account because of the copious amounts of shopping, and Delhi, where I witnessed a French protest, I arrived at Kathmandu airport, only to wait in line for a visa for nearly an hour. I made my way to the baggage claim, only to find that my bag was no longer on the conveyor belt. Luckily, a man who had been on my flight saw the look of fear on my face and pointed to the bags that had been placed on the side. Among the crowd of people, I saw my bag, covered in stickers and a million baggage tags, looking as if it had gone through a combat zone. We had made it, my bag and I, and I couldn't have been more relieved. Little did I know, the world outside was about to shake me to the core.

I stepped outside the airport into the 80 degree weather to see a sea of Nepalese men holding up signs for various hotels and organizations. There had to have been at least 75 people standing there behind a small railing. All of them were yelling and all shaking their signs so quickly that my jet-lagged mind couldn't think straight. To my right, another group of men was trying to lure me to their taxis to take me to where I wanted to go. As I stepped into the street to cross over to the sea of men, a bus leaned on its horn and swerved around me. That was just the beginning of the battle with the traffic in Kathmandu. I was initiated. After sprinting across the street, avoiding motorcycles, bikes, buses and cars, I stood for a minute among these men, craning my neck to see a sign that said PRIO-IDSA (the conference I was going to). Naturally, I couldn't find the person I was looking for and I started worrying. Much to my surprise, a man popped out in front of me, held the sign in my face and said, "you look this conference?". He was my saving grace and he must have seen the look of distress on my face before he popped out of the crowd and scooped up my baggage. As I hopped in the van, I was among other conference goers, many who work for NGOs and think tanks, as well as their own governments. When they found out I was a student, they immediately took me under their wings. I knew it would all work out. The hotel is in the heart of the Patan neighborhood, which houses many international NGOs as well as the UN. After weaving through traffic (driving in Nepal is INSANE), we eventually made it to the hotel where I ordered dinner and passed out for 13 hours. I've never been more tired.

The next few days were full of conferencing and eating. Legitimately. The schedule went like this: conference, lunch, conference, dinner, sleep, conference, lunch, conference, dinner, sleep. The conference was on the security implications of climate change in South Asia and it was absolutely fascinating. I learned so much about water resources in South Asia as well as climate change in general. I met all of the prominent people in the field, who are all incredibly sweet and brilliant. There were people there from Bangladesh, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, India, Nepal, the Maldives, Norway and the UK. I really couldn't have asked for a better experience. I was nervous about coming, especially because it is so far away, but the experience has been worth it. The first night, we went out to Dwarika's Hotel, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, for a 12 course traditional Nepali meal. Yep, I said it. 12 courses. You had to take your shoes off when you walked in the door and we sat on very low chairs, almost reminiscent of Japanese style dining. We also had to wear these bibs that were basically aprons. It was hilarious at the time. It felt as though we should have been cracking open lobsters. The courses were all very small but it got to the point where I could only eat a bite of each one. There was just too much food!  Last night, we walked to a restaurant near our hotel in Durbar Square in Patan. Since there are no street lights at night, we all walked very close together by the side of the road. Of course, as I was walking, I looked up and slowed down because I saw something in front of me. Luckily, a car drove by and illuminated my path because I would have walked right into a cow that was eating trash on the side of the road! Welcome to Nepal.

Today I ventured out on my own. It was quite an adventure. I took a cab to Thamel in Kathmandu proper, which is known as the touristy area because it's where all the trekkers stay. I actually really enjoyed it. I met an amazing shopkeeper, after I had wandered into his antique shop. He began explaining everything to me and he offered me traditional Nepali milk tea. It's DELICIOUS. I want to say that it's similar to chai, but since I don't like chai, I must say it's much better. After parting ways with him, I browsed in some shops and grabbed some lunch in a nice garden cafe while writing some post cards. A fly landed in my tea and died immediately and I was too shy to ask for another cup. My lunch was delicious but it would have been nice with some tea. After eating, I haggled a good price with a cab driver to bring me back to Patan to Durbar Square. After refusing to take my offer, I proceeded to get out of the cab to find another, forcing him to eventually gave in. I've come to learn the ways here. We drove through Kathmandu's Durbar Square, which I grabbed some pictures of as we flew by. I'm lucky I don't get nervous about bad drivers. Most normal people would need a sedative to ride around Kathmandu.

I arrived in Durbar Square in Patan, which is a gorgeous square with a view of the Himalayas behind it. Durbar means "temple", which is why many areas have Durbar Squares. This one is the most beautiful. The king and queen used to live there. I had a personal tour, which taught me so much about the country and the area. We saw the temples, the palace, the Golden palace, which is a monastery, as well as a few other things. Finding it hard to breath by 2pm (the air is horrible here), I decided to head back to the hotel for a nap. My guide negotiated a good price for me in Hindi and I was off.

Sadly, I am leaving tomorrow. Although Kathmandu is crazy and you risk your life just crossing the street, I have really enjoyed it here. Traffic laws don't exist, pedestrians have no rights, and people are often driving on the wrong side of the road. The sidewalks are broken and cracked, if there are any, and cross-walks don't exist. Motorcycles drive on the sidewalks too. There are no rules. I've found that the best way to cross the street is to follow a local. It's kind of like a game of frogger...if you remember what that is. Cars don't slow just need to adjust your speed to the cars whizzing around you. Don't worry Mom and Dad, I still have all of my limbs. I now have the constant sound of beeping horns in my head. There are animals everywhere from chickens to cows to even monkeys. I couldn't believe my eyes today when I saw monkeys walking down the street. I hope that I'll be able to come back to do a trek and to see the Himalayas for real, as opposed to just way in the distance. Although Nepal is littered with political, social and environmental problems, the people are some of the most compassionate people I have ever met. They have an unwavering hope that is very inspiring. It was so refreshing!

Since I don't have any pictures uploaded yet, I wanted to show you some of the pictures that my friend Matthew took of me, which were submitted for the On the Rocks festival in St Andrews. Check out his site {here}! There are some really great pictures!



Friday, 19 November 2010

absence makes the heart grow fonder?

I have been incredibly absent in the past few weeks. I have been swamped with essay writing as well as a visit from my cousin Heather! I won't bore you with my details of my two essays on the liberal peace and international can just research them yourself! :) The weather has begun to change and we had our first frost the other day!

My cousin Heather came from the US to visit me and we had a great time! We mostly stayed around St Andrews but we also made a trip to the Highlands! Here are a few pictures!

Queen's View


One of my favorite stores, Butler and Co, got a shipment of American foods the other day..naturally I gave in. I didn't care that I was paying wayyyy too much money for it all!

Prince William's engagement seems to be causing a little stir around campus these days! Being that both of them are St Andrews graduates, it is kind of a big deal...

I'm off to Nepal in the AM for a conference on the geopolitical consequences of climate change, which is the subject I want to write my dissertation on. I'll have TONS to write about when I return! Until then, wish me luck and keep enjoying every moment!

Thursday, 4 November 2010

Halloween, Castles and Curling...

It's hard to live and blog. This I have realized. It has been a week since I last updated and SO much has happened! Halloween came and went and now we are full into the Christmas season! I, however, am not mentally into Christmas mode because Thanksgiving has yet to come. Despite that fact, it's nice to see Christmas cups at Starbucks and lights being put up in the streets. My Halloween was very friends and I had a chocolate mousse-off. It all came about because I was shooting my mouth about the fact that I used to make chocolate mousse all the time with my first host mother in France. Apparently I failed to mention that I have yet to successfully make it on my own. In fact, I've had 6 failed attempts. Current score: French chocolate mousse: 6, Cat: 0.  I'm pretty sure the odds were against me from the beginning. Needless to say, I had to come up with my own recipe in a matter of days. I competed against my South African friend Simon, who made an incredibly delicious traditional chocolate mousse. I came up with a "healthy" version that made me feel much better about eating it...only chocolate, honey, tofu and a little whipped cream. (Naturally, there were other secret ingredients) There really was no winner, the crowd was split between the two mousses! Regardless, it was a good time! To complete my halloween, I received a package from my mom with halloween peeps in it! :) It doesn't get better than that!

That weekend, I also took a trip to Sterling Castle with the University! It was really good to get away for the day and to see another place in Scotland!

I also have joined the curling team! I wouldn't quite call it a team just yet, as we are all still learning how to do it, but it's a ton of fun! We drive to Perth, which is about 45 minutes away, and there is a beautiful facility there for us! Our coaches name is Claire, and she puts up with our shenanigans, including falling all over the ice and forgetting to sweep, followed by us running down the ice after the stone! My shoulders are sore this morning but it was such a good time! I'm excited to do it again!

learning to curl

Thursday, 28 October 2010

an ode to St Andrews

I've had my nose stuck in a book this week, which has made me very absent! To make up for it, here's an ode to the things that make me happy about my life here in St Andrews...

Golf bag flower pots...

...stumbling upon weddings, complete with bagpipe players...

...walking down the pier by East Sands (even if you do risk being splashed by a wave)...

...sunrises over the cathedral... and cheese parties with friends...

...outfit planning for a French Society event...

...and I can't forget my books! :)

Sunday, 24 October 2010

Photo du Jour

After a few very dreary days, the weather has been gorgeous! Yesterday, we took a walk out on the pier and although the wind was blowing and the waves were huge, you couldn't help but love the fact that the sun was in the sky!

Friday, 22 October 2010

Photo du Jour

Recently, I seem to have fallen into the role of "model" in my spare time. Need to hear that again? Yes. Model. You know, those girls who pose for pictures in magazines or walk down the catwalk. Models. Well, I may not be 6' tall or have the jawbones of a model, however, I have become the subject of a potential photography exposition that my friend Matthew is putting together. At my urging, Matthew, a PhD student in International Relations, is submitting photos for a local art festival being held in St Andrews. Since I am volunteering at this festival, which is meant to spotlight student artists, I told him that he should submit some photos. I have seen his work before (which is fabulous, by the way) and I knew he would be perfect for this. I didn't know that that would turn me into one of the subjects of these photos, but I am delighted and flattered to be a part of the process. This little photo session was incredible impromptu, as leggings, rain boots and frizzy hair are hardly things you seek out to be the center of a picture. This picture is not going to be used because it isn't just Matthew's words it's not perfect...but I enjoyed it anyway and felt the need to share it with you.  If you like what you see, I'll put the link to Matthew's flickr page! He's quite the talented photographer (though he'll gladly argue otherwise)! 

I walk through this arch every day on my way into town, which makes this picture even more special. 

Thursday, 21 October 2010

fall is in the air...or is it?

Fall seemed to only last for a week or two here. The leaves haven't changed much and they have all mostly fallen off the trees already. As halloween approaches, I am trying desperately to get in the fall mood! Winter weather is upon us as the days are getting shorter and shorter and the temperature is already in the 40's. I have officially been here for a month and I am settling in nicely! I'll be making my first trip outside "the bubble" this weekend to Dundee, our closest city, just for a little diversion. I now know this town like the back of my hand and I have my favorite places to shop, study and just browse. Despite all of this, I'm still finding new things every day that take me by surprise! For example, even with all of the times I have made the 20 minute walk into town each week, I have never noticed my street sign before!

I really love that streets have such cute names! My favorite is Argyle Street :)

Also, last night because I had been studying like crazy and needed a mental break, I attempted to make homemade caramel and chocolate dipped apples. They are my favorite fall treat from a small candy store at home called Hilliards. Since I won't be able to get one this fall, I tried to make them myself. I was inspired to do it because of Christine's attempt...see her blog. I, luckily, didn't burn my caramel. However, it wasn't thick enough and kind of dripped off of the apples. I must say, a little bit of a let down. Maybe I should leave caramel apples to the professionals. Regardless, the apples were finished and are now sitting in my kitchen. I generally don't eat the sweets that I make, so my roomies will have a field day! Trust me, they probably look a lot better than they taste!

my finished product!
happy fall! 

all I need now is a pumpkin spice latte from starbucks! anyone want to send me one?

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

broccoli deliciousness

As the weather starts to cool down (significantly!) and the layers are being piled on, we need to warm ourselves up. At the request of my friends, I've actually typed out the recipe for the broccoli potato and cheddar soup that I made last week. It still needs work, but give it a try! I took my inspiration from this recipe but I decided to change it up a little to make it mine.
It's a delicious fall soup!

photo compliments of {here}

Broccoli Potato Cheddar Soup Recipe

Makes 6 to 8 servings

1 tsp. Olive Oil
1/2 Cup Onion, chopped
1/4 Cup Butter
1/4 Cup Flour
2 Cups Chicken Broth
2 Cups Semi-Skimmed Milk
4 Cups Broccoli Florets
1 Cup Potato, Cubed
Salt and Pepper to taste
8 oz. Mild Yellow or White Cheddar, shredded
1/4 tsp. Nutmeg
1/4 tsp. Italian Seasoning
1/4 tsp. Garlic Powder
1/2 tsp. Cayenne Pepper

In a small skillet over medium heat, add the olive oil.  Sauté the onion for 5 minutes and set aside.

In a large Dutch oven over medium heat, melt the butter.  Whisk in the flour, stirring continuously for 4 minutes, then add in the chicken stock and milk.  Turn down the heat to simmer for 20 minutes.

While doing this, soak the potatoes in cold water for a few minutes and drain. Bring a small pot of salted water to a boil and drop the potatoes in. Cook for approximately 10 minutes just to soften them. 

Add the broccoli, onions, potatoes, cayenne, Italian seasoning, and garlic powder and let simmer for another 30 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper to taste. 

If you like a chunkier soup, transfer 2 cups of the soup to a blender and puree, and then return it to the pot.  Otherwise, use a handheld emulsion blender to blend the whole pot of soup until it is smooth and creamy. (the way I prefer it). Stir in the cheeses and nutmeg, until the cheeses are melted. 

Serve with a crusty piece of baguette and enjoy!

Sunday, 17 October 2010

Photo du Jour

This weekend has been full of nights with friends and quality time with my books. Naturally, all of this studying has caused me to neglect my laundry. This morning, I literally had to drag almost all of my clothes, every towel I own, my sheets and my duvet cover down to the washing machines because they were too heavy to lift. Needless to say, I did multiple loads of laundry and emptied my wallet of its contents. Much to my chagrin, when I took my clothes out of the dryer, I found that the dryers were in fact broken and all of my clothes were still wet. Sooo....

My room is now one giant clothes rack! 

But...when I sit back at my computer and look up above me, I have my wall of travel photos to keep me sane! :)

and I could NEVER forget my Holy Cross banner!

Friday, 15 October 2010

Photo du Jour

I absolutely cannot stop thinking about fall in New England as the leaves are falling from the trees around me. It is certainly not the same here! The leaves barely even change colors before they fall off the trees! Take me back to my homeland! Regardless, it was a lovely morning yesterday as I was walking into town. The wind was blowing, the sun was rising and the leaves were falling from the trees :)

These days, it's things like this magazine that are keeping me sane! :) Thanks for yummy fall food! I made a delicious broccoli soup last night that hit the spot!

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

here and there

a BIG thanks to my good friend Christine from Holy Cross who redesigned my blog!! She is amazing! Keep an eye out for all kinds of great tips on her blog {bun&borough}. It really is fun and creative!

As per usual, I have been bopping around town when I'm not holed up in the library, wandering around and enjoying the splendor of this charming town, even if I haven't seen the sun in a few days.

Luckily, one huge perk about living in St Andrews is all of the golf tournaments that we are lucky enough to witness. Unfortunately, I wasn't here for the British Open this summer. However, the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship was just played here the other day, meaning that many celebrities were frequenting our local pubs and hangouts. We were desperately walking around hoping to catch a glimpse of Hugh Grant or Samuel L. Jackson, both of whom were paired up with professionals in the tournament. Although the day of the final was freezing and the wind was whipping against my face, there was nothing better than sitting in the stands above the 18th hole green. Friends beside me and famous golfers in front of me. Life is good.

A few pics to make up for the lack of my photo du jour in the past few days...

The 18th hole. 


this poor chap's ball landed right on the pavement. oops!

Sunday, 10 October 2010

a little bit of nostalgia...

I've been thinking a lot about home in the past few days and I started thinking about The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger. It really is one of my favorite books and the last two lines are what I love the most. The more I tell everyone here about my life elsewhere, the more I miss everyone and everything in it.  Just some food for thought...

"Don't ever tell anybody anything. If you do, you start missing everybody."

picture compliments of {here}

Photo du Jour

The days go by so quickly here that it's difficult to even put my everyday motions into words. Recently, I have mostly been reading, cooking and strolling. I'm still amazed at how beautiful it is here. Also, we had some incredibly gorgeous weather last week that added to the beauty. There were even days where I didn't need to wear a jacket! Shocking, I know!

On one of those beautiful days, I came across these brothers playing on the sidewalk...

They are know as "The Foley Boys" :) It made me smile!

I also gave in and bought a few things at Ness, Scotland's most girly store for tartan. Let's hope I don't need that hat for a while!

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Photo du Jour

The past few days have been full of classes, studying and plenty of exploring.  Of course, there are always the old favorites that come back again and again....

Northpoint! :)
 ...and beauty to be found all around

Welcome to my new home!

Sunday, 3 October 2010

Photo du Jour

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Although it rains here almost every day...

There are always rainbows to look forward to!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Lazy, rainy Sunday reading

600 years has never looked so good

Last week, my roommates and I went to a welcoming assembly for the postgraduates here at St Andrews. As you can imagine, putting nearly 600 masters and phd students into a room together created a lot of nerdy conversations! Everyone was inquiring as to what each person was studying, pulling out random biology facts from high school in response to a conversation with a science student, or retorting with "I've been to [insert random old place here]" when speaking to a classics student. As we were all trying to find our niche among this class of students, the doors to the auditorium of Younger Hall swished open and the sound of bagpipes came echoing into the bustling auditorium. Everyone fell silent and stood up. A dashing young man, fully complete with kilt and bagpipes, led the procession of important administrators and student leaders to the stage. It was at that moment that I knew I was in the right place. All of my fears subsided and I knew that it would all be ok.

The principal of students, Louise Richardson, stood up to address us. As she walked to the podium, the name ran through my head over and over. Louise Richardson...I've heard that name somewhere before. Then, I turned to my roommate Kayla, who was beaming from ear to ear, and I realized that it was THE Louise Richardson. The woman. The myth. The legend. For those of you who don't know, she is one of the leading scholars on terrorism and counter-terrorism in the world. For lack of a better word, she's kind of a big deal. A really big deal, in fact. She spoke eloquently and poignantly, reminding us that we are the future and that it's our job to start shaping it. She also began by pointing out that we are a special group of people because we are the 600th class of students to enter this institution. 600 years ago this fall, students gathered to begin studying at this amazing institution and we are following in their footsteps. 600 years ago, when painters like Brunelleschi and and Da Vinci were refining their skills and many of the great cathedrals of Europe were being built, students arrived from various parts of Europe to open their minds to the joy of learning. After hearing her speech, everything was put into perspective. It truly is incredible to be part of such a historic institution of high academic achievement. I didn't realize I would become attached to this place so quickly, especially as homecoming weekend at Holy Cross is drawing to an end and I am 3000 miles away from Fitton Field. However, as the bagpiper led the procession of highly accomplished administrators and academics out of Younger Hall and we got up to leave, I looked around to my friends sitting beside me, stepped out into the rain and smiled.